Overall - 90%
Pack your bags for South Town - KOF is back. The deep and stylish gameplay that put the series on the map is back and better than ever, and the inclusion of rollback netcode ensures this dream match never ends.
KOF is here again with the release of SNK and Koch Media’s The King of Fighters XV. 39 fighters and more than a dozen teams enter the ring once again – does this release shatter all expectations?
The King of Fighters XV Review
With 14 mainline entries behind it, the KOF series has established an incredibly strong foothold in the fighting game genre. It’s easy to see why – The King of Fighters XV packs depth with just four buttons.
Those taking a passing glance might look at the Power Meter or quarter circle motions and assume it’s just like Street Fighter, but The King of Fighters series is its own unique beast. Knowing when to short hop, when to evade, and when to cancel is absolutely crucial – and speeds battles up a considerable amount. That’s just the start; there’s also Shatter Strikes, Counter Moves, EX Special Moves, and plenty of other things to make sure your team comes out on top.
The MAX Meter, used on top of the Power Gauge, has been overhauled from The King of Fighters XIV. While in MAX Mode, one’s attack and Guard Crush strength increases. There’s also MAX Mode (Quick), which can allow players to combo into the next action without leaving an opening. For fans of Guilty Gear -Strive-’s Roman Cancel mechanic, this will come as second nature. Not only does it give players more options, it also adds tension to each bout.
While it may sound like it’s a lot to manage, that’s also half the fun. The King of Fighters XV gives you the tools you need to succeed, but forces the player to figure out the most opportune time to use them. Simply spamming Power Waves will lead to a punished state (and a bruised ego). Rather, one’s positioning is absolutely crucial. Once things click, fighting in The King of Fighters XV is a blast.
The King of Fighters XV’s roster is home to fan favorites like Leona Heidern, Whip, Blue Mary, and Kula Diamond. New to the game is the graffiti artist Isla; with two purple hands above her, she packs a great anti-air move and has a wealth of options with special moves that can be varied up in succession. Also new to the game is the shaman Dolores, who can take control of the battlefield with the power of mud. Finally, Krohnen McDougall fights with fire and drills as a zoning expert.
The SNK Neo Geo releases were real lookers when it all began in ’94, and the jump to Unreal Engine 4 for The King of Fighters XV keeps the trend going. Stages and characters come alive with special intros, effects, and other things that catch your eye. A return visit to the new and improved Pao Pao Cafe will bring a tear to any fan’s eye.
While offline options in The King of Fighters XV are par for the course with story, versus, training, and a mission mode, it’s the inclusion of rollback netcode that seals the deal. We were able to seamlessly play a few matches with our friends at Hey Poor Player from the San Francisco Bay Area to Delaware clear across the country. Things moved at a steady clip throughout the matches we played, with only a handful of dropped frames to speak of – no small feat when it’s three-on-three.
Pack your bags for South Town – KOF is back. The deep and stylish gameplay that put the series on the map is back and better than ever, and the inclusion of rollback netcode ensures this dream match never ends.
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